Better Land Management Benefits Farmers

January 5, 2009

Sabika Moses Kasaato used to worry about how he would feed his family on his unproductive land in the village of Goma, Uganda. About 25 km from the capital, Kampala, Goma is very densely populated, and residents eke out a living on soil drained by ever-increasing pressure on the land.

As part of efforts to improve their livelihood, Sabika and his family joined a group of farmers participating in a government-funded, demand-driven, agricultural advisory services program. The program is targeted to those poor people who have some assets but lack the skills to use them to their full potential. The family decided to raise improved dairy goats and learned how to grow fast-growing, leguminous trees, solving several problems: the trees fix nitrogen in the soil to improve fertility, serve as firewood, and provide food for the goats. The goats’ manure also benefits the crops.

The Kasaato family mulches their cabbage garden, which they proudly say conserves moisture and saves time and labor previously required to fetch water for irrigation. The cabbage helps to feed the children, and they sell the rest for a profit at market.

IFPRI’s new Research Report, Linkages between land management, land degradation and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Uganda, examines which policies most effectively improve productivity, incomes, and environmental sustainability. One of the study’s recommendations is to promote investments in soil and water conservation and agroforestry, which is also what has worked so well for the Kasaato family.